Perfect aspect


Perfect aspect

The perfect aspect is variously considered either an aspect or tense which calls a listener's attention to the consequences generated by an action, rather than the action itself. This must be distinguished from the perfective aspect, which marks an action as "complete", and refers to it as a single whole, without internal structure. The perfect aspect can refer to states resulting from either a completed action (perfective) or an uncompleted action (imperfective).

In English

The perfect aspect is formed in English by conjugating the verb "to have" and then appending the active verb's past participle: the conjugation of the verb "to have" determines the tense of the overall construction, so that there is a present perfect tense, a past perfect tense or pluperfect tense, and a future perfect tense. Separately, English also encodes a progressive aspect, which is a type of imperfective aspect.

In other words, English distinguishes among four distinct aspects, tense aside:

* Imperfect and perfective, as in "I "wrote" a novel." This aspect focuses the listener on a completed action in itself.
* Perfect and perfective, as in "I "have written" a novel." This aspect focuses the listener on the consequences of the completed action.
* Imperfect and progressive, as in "I "am writing" a novel." This aspect focuses the listener on an ongoing action in itself.
* Perfect and progressive, as in "I "have been writing" a novel." This aspect focuses the listener on the consequences of an ongoing action.

The tense of the verb "to have" dictates the time of the "consequences" but not of the "action". For example, in the above sentence "I have written a novel," the novel is clearly finished at present: the present tense of the verb "to have" indicates that the "consequences" -- the state of being an author with a completed novel -- are being considered in the present tense, even though the authorship is in the past tense.

In addition, the past progressive tense ("I was writing a novel") may connote that an action was interrupted: this connotation can also carry over into the pluperfect progressive tense ("I had been writing a novel").

The passive voice can normally be combined with the perfect aspect, but English speakers tend to frown on passive perfect progressives when they form the construction "been being," as in "the novel has been being written for ages now," the passive form of "I have been writing the novel for ages now."

Outside of the indicative mood, the perfect aspect has only a limited proper existence. Because the English modal verbs are largely defective, and because the English subjunctive mood by itself does not form a true preterite, the verb "to have" is often used to construct past tenses. For example, while "I could write a novel" is allowed by English, "I could wrote a novel" is "ungrammatical", and instead the form "I could "have written" a novel" is used. These tenses are often called "perfect" by analogy, but the perfect aspect only exists properly when it can be contrasted with an "imperfect" aspect, since it is defined by a subtle difference in where the listener places their attention.

ee also

*
* Future tense
* Grammatical aspect
* Grammatical tense
* Imperfect tense
* Past tense
* Perfective aspect
* Prophetic perfect tense

External links

* [http://ingilizce.tk/?page=01/presentperfect.htm Present Perfect Tense]
* [http://www.englishtenseswithcartoons.com/page/perfect_tenses.html 6 Perfect Tenses Explained + Exercises]
* [http://www.lbt-languages.de/english/lernhilfe/lernhilfe.html Grammar Tutorials] - a column overview of the English tenses
* [http://www.bcbsr.com/greek/gtense.html Greek tenses]


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